November 17, 2015
Auburn Graduate Relives Study Abroad Experience in Spain
By: Bryant Welbourne
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)
Bradley Burroughs made a relatively spontaneous decision the summer before his senior year to study abroad. He had no destination in mind and he wasn’t in a “typical” study abroad major like a foreign language or international business. He just wanted to visit another place.
Burroughs, a native of Wilmer, Ala., ended up participating in a four-week program at the University of Salamanca in Spain, the fourth-oldest university in the world. He graduated from Auburn University three days after completing the program with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. Burroughs shared his experience abroad with SECU.
SECU: What sparked your interest in studying abroad?
Burroughs: I have always enjoyed traveling and have been able to visit a lot of great places in the United States, but I knew traveling to another country would be a completely different experience. After hearing my friends talk about all of the places they had been and how incredible it was to live in a different country and to meet new people, I was more compelled to study abroad before I graduated.
SECU: What were your expectations going into this experience?
Burroughs: I was very nervous before the trip because I had no idea what to expect. However, a friend told me, “Don’t expect anything, then you will get what you expected.” So the only expectation I had after talking with my friend was keeping an open mind and not being afraid to try something new. I knew that good and not so good things would happen, but I had to take it in stride and know that everything happens for a reason. Fortunately, because of that, I guess you could say all of my expectations were definitely met, and I had an adventurous time.
SECU: How was the reception from faculty and students at the University of Salamanca?
Burroughs: The two teachers I had at the University of Salamanca were phenomenal. Both were very enthusiastic and genuinely interested in teaching us about the Spanish culture. They supported us through class discussions and challenged us with group projects. Our class had students from Canada, Japan, Brazil and Holland, and all of them were just as supportive as the teachers. I felt very welcomed and comfortable in the classroom, even without knowing much Spanish. Having that type of support through the university was a wonderful thing.
SECU: What is the biggest difference in university life in Spain compared to Auburn?
Burroughs: Transportation and food were the biggest differences for me. The only time I was actually in a vehicle was when we took a bus for excursions or trains to travel to other cities. I walked everywhere else. I have never walked so much in my life, but I loved being able to go wherever I wanted without having to worry about traffic, parking or gas. It was fantastic and it got me in better shape. The meals our host mom cooked were always bought and prepared the same day. Even the food in the town was fresh and delicious. I tried many new foods, and I loved all of it!
SECU: What was your favorite part of the experience?
Burroughs: The weekend trips to Madrid and Barcelona were fantastic, but I think my most memorable moment was the weekend our program went to San Sebastian, a beach in the north of Spain. We got to be together and not worry about class or academic tours. We took a hike up a beautiful mountain, ate a ton of gelato and were able to lay on the beach. A few of us even got to paddle board. It was the first time a lot of us had ever done it, so it’s neat to say that our first time paddle boarding was in San Sebastian.
SECU: How has this experience impacted your life and what will you take from it for the future?
Burroughs: I like to think that this experience gave me the opportunity to both prove and improve myself. One of the reasons I wanted to study abroad was to prove to myself that I could handle any challenges that I may face in life, whether it be in the workplace or on an academic trip. However, I did not realize how much of a challenge it would be. The only way I was able to do well there was by improving my thoughts and attitude, with the help of my peers. For the future, this experience taught me that I am capable of excelling in most situations, but I cannot do it alone. Having the help of my friends showed me the value of others when you are trying to improve yourself.
SECU: What advice would you give to students who are considering studying abroad?
Burroughs: My biggest piece of advice would be to research your city as much as possible before going. Also, make sure you are going to be supported throughout your trip. And, most importantly, have the best time trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone!
SECU was established in 2005 as the SEC Academic Consortium, and one of its original focal points was education abroad. In response, the consortium secured an Institute for Study Abroad Foundation grant to provide scholarships for SEC students to study at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. In addition, SECU oversees a cooperative agreement that provides students from SEC universities access to programs offered at other SEC universities; a partnership with the Politecnico di Torino which gives SEC engineering students the opportunity to study in Torino, Italy, each spring; and education abroad awards provided Dr Pepper, a longtime SEC corporate sponsor.